Making headway in a foreign language - A few steps to move you ahead

3 квітня 2017
Simple ways to make inroads in the foreign language you are interested or keen to learn

Listen to the pronunciation and intonation of each alphabet and then write its near equivalent in your native language (mother tongue). Practice speaking the alphabet(s) aloud and then start forming simple words with two to three alphabets.

Once you have mastered or understood all the alphabets and their respective pronunciation you have set yourself on the expressway of language learning where you can pick up speed, change gears and pace the learning at your comfort level and the extent of initial knowledge.

Start practice with simple phrases and sentences of few words. Listen to them, speak them to yourself, repeat them aloud, read all the possible variations of that phrase/sentence and of course write them.  

Learn the most common phrases like greetings, requests, apologies and then you can move on to more complex expressions like how do I reach to the nearest bus stop? Can you suggest me a good movie? How about having a cup of coffee in the evening? Is there a salad bar nearby and so on?
When you are done with pronunciation, alphabets and simple phrases you can move into a higher gear by actively listening to the language through various sources – FM radio (news, music, advertisements – doesn’t matter if you don’t understand much in the beginning, that is how it would be and should be, slowly you would start comprehending words, longer phrases and full sentences as your ears get trained to the newer words). Watching local movies, if possible, with the subtitles of the local language appearing on the screen is a great way to enjoy your day and to build upon your knowledge; consolidate and strengthen your basics further by reading a simple text, short stories, jokes, anecdotes.

Many may not be comfortable with the following idea (for the fear of making mistakes/errors and perhaps being ridiculed - but, believe me, native speakers always understand you, knowing that the new language may be your third or fourth and appreciate your efforts.) A surefire way to learn a foreign language is to speak it as much and as often irrespective of the mistakes, errors you may make. For you it is a foreign language – maybe your third so waiting for the miraculous day when you would speak perfectly may take years and perhaps never happen but if you start with mistakes one day you would be able to speak near-perfect if you smartly invest your time, efforts and resources in picking up this important life skill.

Listening, reading and speaking are essential skills in learning a language and deepening your knowledge of it. In fact, our first exposure to learning a language is through listening only – babies do nothing but patiently listen for an entire year and then come up with their mumblings and first words, which are anyway eagerly awaited by the family members around and the initial utterances cheerfully clapped. It is through listening faculty we observe speech which includes words, phrases and sentence formation.  Gradually, this vocabulary, phonetics and sentence structure gets stored in our mind and we find ourselves able to reproduce first through speaking, then reading and later by writing too.
A two weeks (15 days) effort of few hours a day with online resources in the language that you would come across in the new environs would ease, simplify and perk-up your foreign visit to a large extent. Development of a basic knowledge, memorization with exact meaning of foreign phrases would see you through many places like immigration, customs, taxi/transport services, hotel, concierge, laundry, ordering food, small talk, exchanging pleasantries and niceties with the local populace, help you get acquainted with people, understand the local culture, comprehend road signs, public boards, make your way through MRT, railway stations, make somewhat of major headlines in the newspapers, buying souvenirs, visiting places of tourist interest and simply enjoying your walks, strolls, visits and people contact of the foreign country. You would derive much more satisfaction with your visit than otherwise going unprepared. With the plethora of online videos, guides, lecture series you can quite easily gain some fundamental knowledge which can be further polished with phrase books, conversational guides that you can order online well before your departure, read, discuss with your friends/partner (if travelling with someone or in a group) and of course don’t forget it at home as it would certainly be helpful and useful to you in the new country.
Happy and pleasant journey!
Щасливої та приємної дороги!
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